Science and Technology News

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Army Launches Online Tool to Connect Soldiers, Scientists

By Mr. Dan Lafontaine (U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command)

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — Soldiers can now provide feedback on their equipment directly to military scientists, U.S. Army officials announced Aug. 25.

The Army has launched the Soldier Technology Suggestion Portal, which enables Warfighters to send suggestions through an Army Knowledge Online Web site.

“We as a Command have to give every Warfighter in theater, both in Iraq and Afghanistan, the ability to reach back into RDECOM,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Marin, U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command’s senior noncommissioned officer. “It’s extremely important because one of the things we struggle with is getting instant feedback from the Warfighter.”

Sgt. Maj. William Tager, noncommissioned officer-in-charge at the RDECOM Field Assistance in Science and Technology-Center at Bagram Airfield, led the push for a portal after speaking with sergeants major in several commands in theater.

Bill Langston, RDECOM knowledge management and collaboration division chief, led the information technology effort to build STSP. He stressed that making it easy to use was a priority for Soldiers.

“They didn’t want to have a lot of passwords. Using the public web site with AKO is a great solution,” Langston said. “It’s a very simple, quick and easy way to transmit issues.”

To access the portal, Soldiers may go to the RDECOM web site at They would click the link, “Soldier Technology Suggestion Portal,” in the left-hand column to obtain an AKO address. Technology questions, ideas or suggestions must be submitted through a Secret Internet Protocol Router Network terminal.

The scientific review begins shortly after the Soldier’s submission, Langston said. Soldiers will be able to submit classified concerns.

“Once they hit submit, it will be sent directly to an engineer in Afghanistan who will make the determination whether it’s something they can resolve there or whether they need to use other elements in RDECOM to fix the issue,” Langston said.

The portal will remove obstacles between the battlefield and laboratory, Marin said. Fast communication channels are key to provide quick solutions in today’s conflicts.

“This will help RDECOM to get those solutions a lot faster than waiting for a piece of paperwork or some sort of a process to go through channels,” Marin said. “We just fielded a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle for Afghanistan. As soon the vehicle went into theater, there were a lot of issues.

“You want to fix those issues immediately. You don’t want to wait for a long period of time.”

The Army Suggestion Program is still available for Soldiers and civilians to submit ideas that increase efficiency at

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